As we continue looking at the subject of the Gospel, Jesus gives us a warning in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (NASB) Especially for new Christians, this is a warning that needs to be heeded. Some preach a gospel that is not Biblical, they twist Scripture around to suit their purposes, and if we don’t know God’s Word and have it hidden in our hearts, we can be easily swayed.
I have seen this firsthand. When my first husband and I lived in Ohio, my husband worked at a Christian radio station that we didn’t realize at first was owned and run by an unbeliever. He had a guest on one of the talk shows who wrote a book, “88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988”. The only problem was, the next year he wrote another book, “89 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1989”. He said he had missed one! My husband and I were very disturbed that the listeners were being drawn in by this so-called “prophet”. Many, because they didn’t realize or know that the Bible says, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36 KJV) They didn’t have a good grasp of the Bible or knew what it said.
Some pastors can be “wolves in sheep’s clothing” in that they give a wrong interpretation of what Scripture says. They put their own spin on the Bible, many not reading from God’s Word nor encouraging their parishioners to read it regularly or check what he is saying against what the Bible says. This is where we can be led astray. We must be a student of the Bible! Studying it, not just reading it. Hiding God’s Word in our hearts so that we know if we are being led away from God and His Word.
When I worked at my last job at a Christian TV Network, many people would write and ask us to refer a church to them. We would write a response giving them pointers on what to look for in a church. 1.) The church must be Biblically sound. Preaching God’s Word with proper interpretation. 2.) The church must be a family atmosphere where they surround each other with love and care, supporting one another. 3.) The Pastor must preach from God’s Word and encourage the congregation to check everything he preaches against what the Bible says. When a pastor says just take my word for it with no questions, don’t bother checking the Bible…that’s a big red flag!
There is also the issue of reading different translations of the Bible. Research the version you are checking out. How closely does it translate from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic? Is it a word for word, a thought for thought, or a paraphrase? Choose a translation that is Biblically sound and easy for you to understand. If you are unsure, ask your Pastor. Some prefer the King James Version, but for some, that translation is difficult to understand. Some prefer the NIV or NASB. I like to check different translations to see which one is clearer and a more accurate translation.
Some translations have taken the Scripture and reinvented the verses to reflect what they believe. One Bible translation I know of takes John 1:1 and completely gives it a whole different meaning just by changing one word and adding another. Be careful in choosing. Be alert!
As Believers, we need to heed Jesus’ admonition to “beware.” Keep alert for false teachers and prophets. The Apostle Paul dealt with this in several of the early churches and this problem continues today. We are to be alert and know what God’s Word says so that we will not be drawn away from the truth. Be a student, learn, and be alert!